The Mets finally did the right thing and removed Dillon Gee from the rotation. However, the veteran was less than thrilled with the news. Here was his take on the situation:
“I kind of feel like any value, if I had any at all before this, it’s probably gone. I mean, what am I going to do out of the pen, so I feel there’s not a lot of good that comes from it.”
You don’t get to the majors without being competitive and believing in your abilities. So, on the one hand, Gee’s declarations are understandable and perhaps even admirable. However, as coaches have preached for seemingly forever, the name on the front of the jersey is more important than the name on the back.
Gee is not one of the five best starters for the Mets. He wasn’t one of the best five on Opening Day but got the gig due to his veteran status on the club. He wasn’t one of the best five heading into Spring Training and, even with his veteran status, only got an undeserved leg up once Zack Wheeler was lost for the season.
At some point last year, Gee stopped being one of the top five starters on the club. After starting the year off great, Gee did one of his typical Jekyll-Hyde things and finished the year with a 5.10 ERA over his final 13 starts. Many will say that he was not healthy when he returned from the DL, a point Gee himself refutes. Additionally, his first start back was 7 IP and 1 ER against a Braves team that came into the contest eight games above .500, hardly the line you’d expect from an injured pitcher.
So, in his last 19 games, Gee has a 4.90 ERA. This type of pitching is one that you scheme to get out of the rotation, not into the rotation. It was head-scratch worthy why they went to a six-man rotation for even one turn through the rotation.
The stated reason is that they were going to do this to preserve innings for the youngsters. Perhaps they finally recognized that it was less than ideal to take away starts from guys with ERAs under three to give them to a guy with an ERA pushing five, especially given the offense’s struggles to score runs with over a third of the preferred lineup on the disabled list.
Sometimes when you delay making a decision, the reason is to put off the pain for as long as possible. But in this particular instance, delaying the six-man rotation for later is one that makes perfect sense. Right now the Mets need to maximize the starts for Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom, guys who can shut down the opposition and give the team a chance to win when it scores three runs or fewer, like the offense has done in 11 of its last 19 games.
The decision can be reviewed in two weeks, when hopefully both Travis d’Arnaud and Daniel Murphy – and perhaps Dilson Herrera, too – have returned from the DL to bolster the offense. It will never be ideal to wait extra time for a Harvey start, yet if it has to be done, let’s do it when the offense doesn’t crater after the fifth spot in the lineup.
And the extra benefit to waiting is that the sixth pitcher can be someone besides Gee. Steven Matz certainly looks ready and two weeks from now he’ll likely have cleared the Super Two deadline, as well as moved within shouting distance of the team’s artificially imposed 100-innings minimum at Triple-A. If Matz struggles after a few starts, hopefully by then Rafael Montero will be ready to step in and get an extended shot.
Gee is a very streaky pitcher. It’s certainly possible that if given a chance, he’d rip off a dozen Quality Starts. It’s also possible that he’d continue his lousy pitching from his last 19 outings. The truth is we have absolutely no idea which version of Gee we would get.
The alleged benefit of going with the veteran is that you know what he’s going to give you. But Gee doesn’t give you that at all. The only rational thing to do is to look at his career marks. In 112 games in the majors, Gee has a 3.94 ERA. That’s not awful but it’s not anything to do jumping jacks for, either. Also, let’s see what ERAs the recent Mets’ rookie pitchers have produced in their first year in the majors:
2.73 – Harvey
3.42 – Wheeler
2.69 – deGrom
It seems most of us consider Matz to be of a similar quality to these three, all a much-better option than Gee. Even Montero, who received the fewest starts of any of the rookie pitchers and one who did not have the benefit of pitching in a normal rotation, put up a 3.98 ERA as a starting pitcher in 2014. The average fan considers Montero to be a disappointment and under less than ideal circumstances he was the equivalent of what Gee has done throughout his career pitching every fifth day.
If he were able to pitch at his lifetime averages, Gee would be an asset for many teams in the majors. It’s just that the Mets are not one of those. It’s well past time to stop running the club for the benefit of a soft tosser who only once in his career has pitched more than five games in a season in the majors and finished with an ERA under four.
Gee sounds like a guy who feels like he’s getting the short end of the stick. Perhaps he should talk to Jenrry Mejia and Carlos Torres for some perspective. Both of those guys were moved to the pen with far, far fewer chances to establish themselves as starters. Those two eventually embraced their roles as relievers and became assets to the club.
It’s time for Gee to do the same.